Relocating social and ecological values in food systems
Tuesday March 14 at 11:00 a.m.
Join us for reports from four unique community-based research cases in Northern Ontario, where strengthening local food initiatives builds community purpose, identity and connectedness. Thus, challenging the accepted wisdom of externally-driven, profit-oriented economic primacy. All case studies have emerged as place-based and contextual.
Willow Springs Creative Centre (WSCC) https://www.willowsprings.ca/
Judi Vinni, Founder and Director of WSCC and Rachel Kagegamic, MSW student at Lakehead University
Willow Springs Creative Centre is a progressive social purpose enterprise that provides inclusive art, therapeutic gardening and food programs, services and training. They partner with professional artists, people trained in horticultural therapy and gardening, skilled cooks and bakers, and other talented facilitators. Their home base is nestled in the rural village of Lappe northwest of Thunder Bay, in the historical international Co-op built by local Finnish homesteaders in 1934.
Four key innovative local food related initiatives:
- Soup and Artisan Bread initiative operates on a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) model where customers pre-pay for their weekly subscription prepared by local students facing barriers to employment who participate in a training program to connect to and work with locally sourced food.
- Harvest Share is an urban gleaning project where youth, staff and volunteers turn would-be-wasted fruit into preserves and other products such as cider and sauce for sale at the WSCC weekly market. Profits are used to support the soup and bread training program
- Willow Springs’ Farmers Market provides access to a local market for Lappe-area producers. The market is a joyful meeting place that incorporates food, art activities and music.
- Horticulture Therapy and Gardening works with a variety of partners such as schools, organizations service disabled community members, retirement and long-term care facilities to deliver therapeutic gardening programming.
Foraging as a Social Economy in Northern Ontario: A Case Study of Aroland First Nation, Arthur Schupp Wild Foods, Nipigon annual blueberry festival, and the Algoma Highlands blueberry farm.
Researcher: William Stolz, master’s student in Enivronmental Sciences, Lakehead University Interviews with Sheldon Atlookan, Aroland Band Councillor and organizer of blueberry social economy initiatives, Norma Fawcett, Founder of the Nipigon Blueberry Blast, Arthur Schupe, forager of local edible mushrooms and blueberries and Trevor & Tracy Laing, founders and owners of Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberries
Four contexts for foraging are presented to demonstrate distinct foraging practices that all contribute to building social capital, community resilience and innovative diversification of the economy.
- The Aroland Youth Blueberry Initiative (AYBI) began in 2008, when community members decided to try and sell some of their surplus berries as a fundraising activity to help the youth. In Aroland berry picking is a way of life that can be traced back many generations.
- Norma Fawcett, an elder of the Lake Helen Reserve, a part of the Red Rock Indian Band, had a vision of establishing a blueberry festival to celebrate and honour the blueberry. The idea was supported by the Nipigon Chamber of Commerce and plays a significant role in introducing people to how and where to pick blueberries, encourages awareness of a free, highly nutritious food source, boosted community connectedness and builds community pride in a locally available food source.
- Arthuer Schupe is a second generation forager for local blueberries and mushrooms. His intergenerational knowledge of foraging has now branched into marketing fresh and dried morels, chanterelles and blueberries.
- Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm, is a first in Northern Ontario. This farm is a natural, sustainable, low-bush wild blueberry farm located near Wawa, Ontario that produces quality fresh and processed blueberry products including jams, blueberry horseradish sauce and blueberry barbecue sauce.
Bearskin Lake First Nation
Rosemary McKay, Chief of Bearskin First Nation and Esther McKay, master’s student in the northern environment and cultural program, Lakehead University and a member of Bearskin Lake First Nation.
This case study explores both local food acquisition as a traditional practice for thousands of years and the challenges of food acquisition from a northern store and a local food co-op. Findings have demonstrated that social economy began as a way of life, not as an off-shoot of the mainstream industrial economy. Concepts of social economy and food sovereignty merge within this context. Identity is deeply embedded in the land which is the traditional giver of food.
- Scaling out is sharing with the community; and scaling up is with other First Nations accessible by winter roads and air. Stewardship values are the driver, not market economy
- Adaptation to traditional sharing is innovatively augmented with sharing within community through Facebook and penny auctions
- Hunting and harvesting festivals enhance social capital and resilience by rebuilding knowledge and skills of traditional diets
- ‘Law of the land’ with in-depth feedback of local ecological system including humans is a distinctly separate paradigm from government policy and regulations of mainstream economy
Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op (CLFC) http://cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com/
Jen Springett, President of Cloverbelt Local Food Coop; Allison Streutker, Psychology student at Lakehead University
CLFC is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder co-op that creates food accessibility through an online farmers’ market with five pick-up locations. CLFC connects communities with local goods via distribution sites spanning 350 km across Northwestern Ontario. There are 130 producers serving 1000 plus members including two First Nations and local organizations that support local food.
- Increase visibility & accessibility of local foods available for purchase
- To educate our community & surrounding areas about the benefits of eating locally
- To increase local food sales
- NWO Local Food Map (2015-2017 nwofoodmap.com
- The Education Co-ordinator facilitates local food classroom and community education and workshops to enhance local food skills including food preservation to extend the availability of local food
- Crowdfunded Community Greenhouse for use by local school classes, community organizations and for producers to extend their growing season.
- Agriculture Co-ordinator facilitates salad bar program, funding for on-farm intern, NWHU apple and carrot projects for school nutrition program
Facilitators: Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Connie Nelson, Professor, Director of Food Security Research Network, Mirella Stroink, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University